CD-TOOLS. Circular Design TOOLS for product integrity


Project no.: 01.2.2-LMT-K-718-03-0104

Project description:

The origins of the Linear Economy – the ‘take-make-use-dispose’ model of consumption – date from the Industrial Revolution and the global economy developed around this model. Today various social, economic and environmental factors mean that it is no longer sustainable. The scale of what we’re designing has shifted from products to companies, to economic systems. Who we’re designing for has expanded from a solitary user to an intimately connected web of people, spanning the globe. New TOOLS such as AI and IOT mean our design ambitions are limited only by our abilities to use them. A new model – the Circular Economy (CE) is being advocated, but as yet it is not widely practiced. Businesses built around long-life products and recovered resources cannot operate without products/services that support the regenerative strategy. For companies, changes in the business model result in the need for product/service design, which contrasts starkly to those for the linear economy throw-away products. In CE, when waste is no longer an option, the role of design is growing exponentially. Circular Design (CD) is defined as the CE engine – the activity aimed to create product integrity. Nevertheless, the development of products according to the CD principles (especially on the product level) is not sufficiently studied. I.e., There is a need for TOOLS based on CD (practical and methodological) which respond to the complexity of CE and helps to develop products/services based on CE model. Until now, the studies concentrate mostly on Eco-design, which is dealing with the improvement of technical parameters, but not often the attention is dedicated
to Circular Design and its potential for CE.

The project aims to develop Circular Design TOOLS suited for the innovators from any discipline to embrace CE in product development. The objectives of the project are directed to solving the three main CE development
challenges: Mental shift (from linear to circular, systems thinking); Knowledge exchange via active dialogue between stakeholders to spark innovation; Relation of circular design strategies to the infrastructure enabling prototyping, rejuvenating processes (repair, rebuild, recycle)- the culture of product integrity).

As a result of the project, a CD PLATFORM will be created with CD TOOLS prepared for use in business and entrepreneurship practice.

Project funding:

This research project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund according to the 2014–2020 Operational Programme for the European Union Funds’ Investments, under measure’s No. 01.2.2-LMT-K-718 activity “Research Projects Implemented by World-class Researcher Groups to develop R&D activities relevant to economic sectors, which could later be commercialized”.

Project results:

Practical results

3 Circular Design Tools were developed and integrated into open-source digital resource – CD platform.
1.The 1st Circular Design Tool has been developed to acquire new knowledge related to circular design and to test the potential of a product idea from the point of view of product (service) development and compliance with the principles of the circular economy:
• a scientifically based product idea template based on a conceptual circular design system has been developed.
• an interdisciplinary training program has been developed, which consists of 4 modules: circular design mindset, circular design knowledge, circular design technical skills, circular design implementation skills.
2. The 2nd Circular Design Tool, consisting of a complex database and a digital tool based on an algorithm, has been developed. This tool aims to help product/service developers to gather relevant information to assess the design and circularity aspects of a product idea and to provide them with the necessary information resources to develop it.
3. The 3rd Circular Design Tool is product (service) development program based on the principles of the circular economy.
The Circular Design tools and their effectiveness were evaluated during the accelerator pilot, where 18 companies and product developers participated with their ideas. The 2 circular product ideas that were the most developed during the pilot have been submitted to the Lithuanian Patent Office for registration of design applications.
The results are applicable in R&D and will be prepared for commercialization. CD TOOLS might be used all together within a 3-step CD Acceleration Program, or separately. The application is possible among individuals from different disciplines and organizations within various industry sectors.
Main users:
– research organizations – the development of research results to CE led products/services; technology and innovation parks – the use of CE acceleration program;
– business companies – product design decisions that facilitate the transition from linear to circular;
– entrepreneurs – startups based on CE principles.

Theoretical results
6 manuscripts were published in international peer-reviewed journals with citation index, 2 manuscripts were accepted to international peer-reviewed journals with citation index, 3 manuscripts were submitted to international peer-reviewed with citation index, 2 papers were published in peer-reviewed conference proceedings without a citation index, and 9 abstracts of international conference proceedings were published, 14 presentations were made at international scientific conferences.

Project coordinator: Kaunas University of Technology

Cabirio Cautela, Lina Dagilienė, Lina Dagilienė, Rūta Valušytė

2020 - 2023

Centre of Excellence for Business Digital Transformation, Design Centre, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Design, School of Economics and Business